Why You Should Wear Purple on June 15

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is June 15. This year's theme is "One person. Once action. One Nation. United against elder abuse."

A startling number of elders face abusive conditions. Every year an estimated five million (one in ten) older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation. And that's only part of the picture: Experts believe that for every case of elder abuse or neglect reported, as many as 23.5 cases go unreported.

Launched in 2006, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day serves as a call-to-action for individuals, organizations, and communities to raise awareness about abuse, neglect, and exploitation of elders and unite communities around the world in raising awareness about elder abuse.

11 Ways You Can Make a Difference

Following are ways that any person can raise awareness of elder abuse:

  1. Learn the signs of elder abuse and neglect.
  2. Call or visit an elderly loved one and ask how he or she is doing.
  3. Provide a respite break for a caregiver.
  4. Ask your bank manager to train tellers on how to detect elder financial abuse.
  5. Ask your doctor to ask you and all other senior patients about possible family violence in their lives.
  6. Contact Adult Protective Services or the Long-Term Care Ombudsman to learn how to support their work helping at-risk elders and adults with disabilities.
  7. Ask your religious leader to give a talk about elder abuse at a service or to put a message about elder abuse in the bulletin.
  8. Volunteer to be a friendly visitor to a nursing home resident or to a homebound senior in your neighborhood.
  9. Send a letter to your local paper, radio or TV station suggesting that they cover World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (June 15), Grandparents Day (September), and Older Americans Month (May).
  10. Learn how to protect yourself from abuse, neglect and exploitation.
  11. On June 15, wear purple. When someone asks you if it has special meaning, start a conversation about elder abuse. It's more common than you think, and rarely discussed socially.

Aging and Disability Services works closely with mandatory reporters in King County, and has played an integral role in resolving several high-profile elder abuse cases. Each year, hundreds of elders receive additional services and supports that empower them to stay safe, and thousands receive services that allow them to live independently.

If you or someone you know is a victim of abuse, call the King County Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-866-221-4909 or the Washington State DSHS Hotline at 1-866-ENDHARM (1-866-363-4276). When in doubt, please report.